Sticking demons in jars probably isn't the best approach to containing them, especially when the jar is made of glass. Getting the beastie into the jar in the first place can be a painful and terminal experience too. But all of that Tamira (Mohana Krishnan) and Sam (Megan Suri) already know, in this effective chiller directed by Bishal Dutta.
Trying to fit in at an American school is bad enough, but deciphering the cryptic book left behind by a family that left the neighborhood the hard way, and a mother (Neeru Bajwa) who expects she follow family traditions, is making it all very difficult for Sam, her new boyfriend, and her school councilor, Joyce. Her friend, Tamira, has it worse since she is the one left holding the jar. Until Sam smashes it in a fit of disgust. Cue the terror and screaming for both of them.
In true horror movie fashion, the adults are clueless and little help, so Sam and her boyfriend check out the house where that other family didn't stay long. A scary mural matches a drawing in the book and is also not much help at that moment. When the demon goes after her and those around her, the story picks up speed and bloodletting.
While Joyce (Betty Gabriel) becomes a believer in Hindu demonic entities--the hard way--Sam and her mother embrace their culture to fight against the monster and save who they can. Not so surprisingly, it involves a lot of cooking. The ending leaves an opening for more mayhem, but don't they always?
Some critics have reviewed this one as derivative, too cliche-heavy, and the usual freaky creepy tropes kind of effort. I admit the use of oh-it-was-a-nightmare-moments are cheap these days to foster scares and pad the story, but the creature design is beautiful (in a demon sort of way of course), and filming its presence is nicely handled: glimpses at first, then full-0n, run for your life reveals as the situation worsens. And Sam thought fitting in at school was difficult?
I will say the use of yet another cryptic book, filled with incoherent Crayola scribblings and drawings as the key provider of clues, like the overused Internet and YouTube search for just about anything evil, is getting wearisome as go-to ways of moving a story forward. Especially when those books are always beaten, leatherbound, and look like they were buried and dug up a few times while being chewed on. Why not use a Mead notebook for damn sakes, like everyone else?